Black Codes, 1866

Sec. 1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina That negroes and their issue, even where one ancestor in each succeeding generation to the fourth inclusive is white, shall be deemed persons of color.

Sec. 2. ...All persons of color who are now inhabitants of this State shall be entitled to the same privileges, and are subject to the same burthens and disabilities, as by the laws of the State were conferred on, or were attached to, free persons of color, prior to the ordinance of emancipation, except as the same may be changed by law.

Sec. 3. ...Persons of color shall be entitled to all the privileges of white persons in the mode of prosecuting, defending, continuing, removing and transferring their suits at law and in equity; and likewise to the same mode of trial by jury, and all the privileges appertaining thereto. And in all proceedings in equity by or against them, their answer shall have the same force and effect in all respects as the answer of white persons.

Sec. 4. ...In all cases of apprenticeship of persons of color, under chapter five (5) of the revised code, the master shall be bound to discharge the same duties to them as to apprentices...: Provided always, That in the binding out of apprentices of color, the former masters of such apprentices, when they shall be regarded as suitable persons by the court, shall be entitled to have such apprentices bound to them, in preference to other persons.

Chapter 5, section 3, of the revised code, as amended by this act, reads thus: The master or mistress shall provide for the apprentice diet, clothes, lodging, and accommodations fit and necessary; and such apprentice shall teach or cause to be taught to read and write, and the elementary rules of arithmetic; and at the expiration of every apprenticeship shall pay to each apprentice six dollars, and furnish him with a new suit of clothes, and a new Bible; and if upon complaint made to the court of pleas and quarter sessions it shall appear that any apprentice is ill-used, or not taught the trade, profession and employment to which he was bound, or that any apprentice is not taught reading, writing, and arithmetic as aforesaid, the court may remove and bind him to some other suitable person.

Sec. 5. ...In all cases where men and women, both or one of them were lately slaves and are now emancipated, now cohabit together in the relation of husband and wife, the parties shall be deemed to have been lawfully married as man and wife at the time of the commencement of such cohabitation, although they may not have been married in due form of law. And all persons whose cohabitation is hereby ratified into a state of marriage shall go before the clerk of the court of pleas and quarter sessions of the county in which they reside, at his office, or before some justice of the peace, and acknowledge the fact of such cohabitation, and the time of its commencement, and the clerk shall enter the same in a book kept for that purpose...

Sec. 7. ...All contracts between any persons whatever, whereof one or more of them shall be a person of color, for the sale or purchase of any horse, mule, ass, jennet, neat cattle, hog, sheep or goat, whatever may be the value of such articles, and all contracts between such persons for any other article or articles of property whatever of the value of ten dollars or more; and all contracts executed or executory between such persons for the payment of money of the value of ten dollars or more, shall be void as to all persons whatever, unless the same be put in writing and signed by the vendors or debtors, and witnessed by a white person who can read and write...

Sec. 9. ...Persons of color not otherwise incompetent shall be capable of bearing evidence in all controversies at law and in equity, where the rights of persons or property of persons of color shall be put in issue, and would be concluded by the judgment or decree of court; and also in pleas of the State, where the violence, fraud, or injury alleged shall be charged to have been done by or to persons of color. In all other civil and criminal cases such evidence shall be deemed inadmissible, unless by consent of the parties of record: Provided, That this section shall not go into effect until jurisdiction in matters relating to freedmen shall be fully committed to the courts of this State: Provided, further, That no person shall be deemed incompetent to bear testimony in such cases because of being a party to the record or in interest...

Sec. 11. ...Any person of color convicted by due course of law of an assault with an attempt to commit rape upon the body of a white female, shall suffer death.

Sec. 12. ...The criminal laws of the State embracing and affecting a white person are hereby extended to persons of color, except where it is otherwise provided in this act, and whenever they shall be convicted of any act made criminal, if committed by a white person, they shall be punished in like manner, except in such cases where other and different punishment may be prescribed or allowed by this act.


Credit text

Public Laws of North Carolina, session of 1866, p. 99; and Senate Ex. Doc. no. 26, 39 Cong., 1 Sess., p. 197. March 10, 1866.